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Before You Buy 111
Show Tease: Coming up! We’ve got a couple of wireless flash drives, two 15 inch laptops, one thin and light, one big and heavy and fat. We’ve got the ultimate laptop companion, or is it? And I have the newest waterproof phone from Sony. It’s all coming up! Time to watch Before You Buy. Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT. Bandwidth for Before You Buy is brought to you by CacheFly at Cachefly.com
Leo Laporte: Hello! Welcome to Before You Buy, the TWiT product review show where we get the latest and greatest products and doll them out to our staff, let them live with them for a week or two, and give us their impressions of what it’s like to own the gear. We’ve got some great reviews coming up, but first let’s start off with something that I think could be very convenient, but well, let’s find out. Victor Bognot is one of our newest… I think he’s our newest employee. He’s our newest editor anyway, and we gave him a couple of wireless flash drives to test out. Let’s see what Victor thought.
Victor Bognot: Hi! This is Victor from TWiT and today I’ll be reviewing two mobile Wi-Fi Drives. The SanDisk Connect wireless flash drive, and the Kingston Mobile light wireless. These two devices try to solve the same problem. Lack of storage on your mobile device, like your phone or your tablets. Here’s how they work. After turning on the WIFI drive, connect directly to the drive through your WIFI settings. Because you’re connecting with an add hop wireless connection, you lose your connection to the internet. Each device has their own respective app available on the ITunes app store, google play, and the amazon app store. You can also browse the drive using the browser on your computer or wireless device. Even though connecting to each device is the same, as you can see, they both have different form factors. And how you would use it would be different because of their features. So let’s start with the SanDisk connect wireless flash drive. The SanDisk Connect is a USB 2 flash drive, and mounts as one when you connect it to your computer. They come in capacities of 16, 32, or 64 Gig. But only the 64 gig model supports X formatting for large file sizes. And turtle battery can last about four hours. The SanDisk connect can stream to three devices simultaneously. And 720P video streams fine, although SD video is more reliable. One thing to keep in mind is, when it’s plugged into a computer, it turns of WIFI and is only a flash drive. The app is actually well designed and browsing files on the drive is smooth. However it gets quirky when you need to change your wireless settings, such as the wireless network name, or when you need to add password protection. So pros for the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive: It has a small form factor, with no extra cables or connections. It has easy connectivity and reliable file transfer. The 64 gig in the micro SD port can be taken out for expansion. With the latest updates the SanDisk wireless flash drive mobile app is well designed for browsing files. Firmware updates can be done through the app. And it can play ITunes DRN movies through Safari. Cons: Saving your settings on the wireless app are not really clear. And for the price, at $99, the 64 gig version is more than a dollar a gig. And even though it is a little expensive, I would still give it a buy because the software package, along with the hard drive make it a good experience. Now for the Thin MobileLite wireless, would be in the same category as the SanDisk Connect. It is less expensive, but it has a few caveats. One, it is a little larger physically, in size. And you have to supply your own memory. It can be an SD card or a USB drive, or both. The MobileLite wireless app allows you to navigate, not only the connect drives, but also your device. You can transfer from the drives to your mobile device, or vice versa. The most important function with this device however, is that you can even transfer between the drives. Such as after a day of shooting photos to back up on another drive. The transfer is actually really fast. I found an SD card with about 380 megabytes of pictures from my DSLR, transferred to a USB 2 thumb drive in a few minutes. You can stream to three simultaneous devices and they claim 5 hours of continuous use. So pros for the Kingston MobileLite wireless: It’s versatile with using different types of drives. Transferring between devices and drives is actually pretty quick. It has emergency charger capability and this device has WIFI security settings, such as being able to hide the SSID. And for the cons: The MobileLite app is slow compared to even the SanDisk connect app. It claims that it can play ITunes DRM files through Safari, but I had problems on my old IPod, and even on my Mac. Firmware updates are not always through the app. There is one that you will have to download from the Kingston website. Even though I had a few frustrations with the Kingston app, this would still be a buy, just because of the versatility of being able to use a USB drive or an SD card. And even to be able to transfer files between it. Between the two, if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, and you want to use this mostly for ITunes movies that you've purchased. I would suggest the SanDisk Connect, just because the software handles those DRM files better. Like it even prompts you to open Safari automatically when you choose the file. The Kingston was a little more finicky with that. That was a little frustration there. But if you needed a way to back up your photos off of your SD card onto a bigger drive, this would actually be a good solution. And there you go! I’m Victor from TWiT, and this was the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash drive. And this was the Kingston MobileLite Wireless.
Leo: I agree with Victor. These are really convenient little tools. I have the Samsung, I’m sorry, the SanDisk Connect, and it’s kind of handy to have that extra storage laying around. Now we’re going to say hi to our producer Shannon Morse. She has one of the two 15 inch laptops we’re going to take a look at. I don’t know why you get the giant one. This is a clearly a…
Shannon Morse: I should have given this to Radford, he could probably pick it up a lot easier.
Leo: Yeah, he should lug that around! This is obviously a desktop replacement, tell me about it.
Shannon: Yes, it is. So this is the Toshiba Tecra W50. In particular, this is the A1500 model. It costs $2000 on their website.
Shannon: But you can find it for a whole $1899 if you really want to save a hundred bucks. At that point it doesn’t make that much of a difference. It’s obviously a desktop replacement. And they’re touting this as a mobile work station so it’s for Engineers, and it’s for Visual artists. People that work on a lot of video. And you can defiantly see that when you look at the screen. Very, very large resolution. It’s 1900 by 1080. It can fully support 1080P videos. So I actually pulled up a video for you, and you can also hear a little bit of the speakers. The speakers are clear, but there is absolutely no bass going on in there at all. So the speakers are a little mediocre. But as far as the screen goes, it is not a touch screen. So you can’t touch anything. But it is made for a visual artist, so you can definitely see a very nice 1080P video on that. As far as what’s inside of this baby, it has a, you know, everything that you would expect out of a mobile workstation. It has a 500 gig hard drive. It does not have a solid state drive. Kind of wish it did, because the boot up time is a little bit slow. Now that we’ve been spoiled with solid state drives. It does have 16 gigs of ram, which is freaking crazy good. Which is awesome, I love that! And it does include Windows 7, instead of Windows 8, but it does include a Windows 8, it’s a Windows 7pro, so it does include a Windows 8 pro license as well. So if you want to update, you can.
Leo: Is that included in the price or…?
Shannon: Yes it is.
Leo: Okay, so you kind of get your choice, in other words.
Shannon: Yeah, it’s already automatically included. As far as the specs of this guy goes though, its 6 pounds, so very, very heavy. And then you have this gigantic brick that comes with it.
Leo: That’s the power brick?
Shannon: It’s the power brick.
Radford: That’s another laptop!
Leo: I thought it was a barbell you were lifting and building your muscles there.
Shannon: That’s three pounds there.
Leo: This is really heavy. This is not portable by any means.
Shannon: I would not take this with me on a plane.
Leo: You’re talking 10 pounds all together.
Shannon: Yeah, it’s very, very heavy. So, it’s obviously made for, you know, hard core people that need this kind of laptop. I wouldn’t take it with me anywhere. So the speakers are pretty decent. The keyboard is really nice and spaced out. It does include the little nub so if you prefer that you can use that. It also has the right and left clicks up here, so if that’s the way you like to use your mouse pad then you’re just fine. The mouse pad is really nice too. It’s very smooth, it’s very easy to use. And you didn’t have to learn anything new to be able to use it. They give a really nice click back feedback. So I didn’t have any problems with that. And it includes all the ports that you could ever want. Honestly, there’s everything on here!
Leo: There’s a VGA port on there, wow!
Shannon: HDMI, VGA, the Seta/USB smartcard, two USB 3.0, headphone, has this weird one, that I’ve never used, which is a media dock, I believe it’s called, Ethernet.
Leo: That’s a proprietary. They don’t have HDMI on there though!
Shannon: There is HDMI, right on this side.
Leo: Oh I missed it.
Shannon: There it is! Pretty baby. And there’s also a DVD drive right here. And another Smart…
Leo: Oh that’s a PC card there?
Shannon: PC card, yeah.
Leo: Oh I haven’t seen one of those in a while.
Shannon: yeah, so it includes everything that you could ever want.
Leo: It feels antiquated, doesn’t it? It feels like older hardware.
Shannon: It does! It’s very, heavy, it’s crazy.
Leo: I know they announced a new W50 but it’s not going to be out until the summer, so this is current.
Shannon: Yeah, so that one comes out in the summer time and basically, they’re updating the screen. It’s going to be a 4K screen. But for now, this one was released about two months ago or so.
Leo: Tell me you get great battery life.
Shannon: So the batteries, about 5 hours. Yeah, it’s kind of mediocre for this range of product. But, you know, this is for a very targeted market, this isn’t for everybody in the world. Obviously this isn’t something I would go for, because I like ultra-books, but it’s definitely made for visual artists.
Leo: And for $2000 you did get a Haswell i7.
Shannon: Yes you do.
Leo: Tell me about the graphics. It’s in video graphics, so it’s dedicated graphics.
Shannon: Yeah. Its dedicated graphics, the graphics are pretty good. I didn’t have any problems with it. I didn’t see any kind of lag or anything like that. I really liked the graphics to be honest with you.
Leo: And 16 gigs of memory does tell you that they’re thinking auto cad or, you know, render man, you’re doing some heavy duty stuff.
Shannon: Yeah, plenty of power. Even the hard drive is 72 RPM. So that’s pretty decent as well, you can get into your files pretty quickly and you won’t have problems with processing, or anything like that. So my pros and cons for this, I liked the high resolution screen. I’m glad that they didn’t drop it down to 768.
Leo: Not at that price!
Shannon: That would be terrible!
Leo: In fact, they’re going even higher, right?
Shannon: Yeah. It has all of the ports that you could ever need as well. On the con side there is no solid state drive and the mediocre speakers. I really wish they would have included something a little more hardcore. Especially if you are an editor and you need to make sure that the sound quality is good. But at that point you’re probably using headphones anyway. So buy, try, or don’t buy? I would give this try. It’s not the best mobile workstation that I’ve seen, but for the price it’s pretty darn good.
Leo: Alright, and heavy.
Shannon: And heavy.
Leo: And I guess, like you said, it’s for a certain kind of user.
Leo: And you know who you are. Somebody with big arms. Thank you Shannon Morse, producer, of Before You Buy. Snubs. @snubs, on twitter. I like these little portable speakers. I have them, I have the big Bose sound like too. I carry jam boxes around. When you travel, having a Bluetooth speaker is great. We gave Bryan Burnett our technical, whatever he is back there. Our technical director back there. We gave him three portable speakers to try out. A Soen, a Jawbone and a Bose. Here’s his review.
Bryan Burnett: Hi, I’m Bryan Burnett and here at TWiT we review a lot of Bluetooth speakers, but these speakers fall into the high end spectrum of the ultra-compact Bluetooth speakers. All are well made, look good, and come in around $200. Now the first one I’m going to take a look at is the Bose Soundlink Mini. Bose has a reputation for making high quality speakers, and this one is no exception. At first glance, the Bose mini has a very nice design, it’s easy to manage the buttons, and it comes with a base that you use to recharge. And the battery lasts up to seven hours. And it does get very loud, and it doesn’t distort, even at some of the higher volumes. But one of the pros of this speaker is it does have very good bass for its size. But as you turn up the volume the base can start to cover up some of the high end sounds. But as far as Bluetooth speakers go, this one is very bassy, and has very clear sound. Next up is the Jawbone Jambox mini speaker. That comes in at $179.99. Now the Jawbone mini is the smallest of the three speakers that I’m looking at. It feels very well built, and also has an aluminum housing. I do own one of the first generation, regular size Jamboxes. And side by side with the mini, it sounds just as good as its bigger sibling. But this smaller Jambox doesn’t have the same range in volume. Now the mini jambox, boats nearly 10 hours of continuous play back. And once again, for its size, the mini provides clear sound with little to no distortion. But that’s mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t get very loud. Finally, the last one is the Soen Transit speaker that comes in at $199.95. The Soen is another well designed speaker that feels really well built also. Just like the Bose, this speaker has very good mid and low bass, for its small stature. But it also has an additional feature that the Bose doesn’t, it has an integrated Mic for phone, just like the jambox, for hands free calling. The Soen has cleverly integrated a kick stand to help prop itself up. The soen claims up to eight hours of continuous play back and as for portability, this one is lighter than the Bose, and I would be more inclined to travel with this speaker, than to lug around the Soundlink Mini. Now for the round up. My favorite of the Bunch would be the Bose Soundlink Mini. It has great sound, good bass and aesthetically, I like the design of it the most. But, it is the least portable. And if you wanted more protection, you could buy a colored plastic case for $25. But this is more of a speaker that would sit on your desk and attach to your laptop. The Jambox Mini is the most portable and comes in a variety of colors for your preference. It delivers good sound for its diminutive size, but you’re going to want to use it in a quiet room, as the volume doesn’t get very loud. Now the Soen, has very good sound, it gets quiet loud, with the advantage with being lighter and slightly more portable than the Bose. It also, like the Jambox, has a microphone for hands free calling. Any one of these speakers could be a buy depending on what you’re looking for. The Bose is a buy if you want a Bluetooth desk speaker for your laptop. The Jambox is a buy, if you want something slim and portable to carry around. And the Soen would be a buy if you want something premium but also compact and portable. If I had to buy, try, don’t buy and only choose one of these speakers I would buy the Bose, try the Jambox, and don’t buy the Soen. This has been Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy, thanks for watching!
Leo: Well there you go! It sounds like you’ve got one out of three, ain’t bad. To quote (inaudible). Or misquote him. Anyway, let’s move on. Bryan Burnett, technical director, does a great job switching the show for us every week as we do the live version of this show. Radford Castro is our Engineering Director here and we always give him laptops too. Now I don’t know how this worked out but you got the sexy, light laptop, and Shannon got the big heavy workhorse laptop. This is a Dell XPS15. And I’ve been a Dell XPS15 user for ages. This is kind of the IT pro laptop of choice in business.
Radford Castro: Yes, and possibly for gamers too.
Leo: Oh really? Well tell us about it.
Radford: This thing has crazy power behind it. So it’s a 15 inch laptop, this is the XPS15. And it’s pretty much aimed at your midrange up to high end. So we’re looking at the $2299 model.
Leo: Whoa! So this is even 300 bucks more than Shannon’s.
Radford: Yes, it’s 300 bucks more, but this is the ultra-book style.
Radford: But it doesn’t have all the crazy amenities like this, like you know, a heavy adapter or like a DVD or PCMCI card, or anything of that sort.
Leo: This is for like, the executive, the CEO, the sea level or the IT guy.
Leo: Who gives to choose whatever he wants.
Radford: Right. And it has….
Leo: Touch…that’s good.
Radford: It’s touch based and before I get into the display, because that’s really the big piece here, it has some really nice specs. We’re looking at an i7 Haswell. 16 gigabytes of RAM, 512 gigabytes of SSD.
Leo: SSD! Alright!
Radford: Yes, three 3.0 USB ports, mini display, HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0, all the good stuff you’d expect, cameras, all the whiz bangs that you’d expect to see. Including an SD card. So it’s really nice, just from the top. Just looking at the specs alone, it’s really, really nice. What I really wanted to show off was just the speed at which the display runs at. So this display, and this is the thing that really knocks your socks off, is its 3200 by 1800. It’s really close, it’s better than retina.
Leo: 3200 x1800!
Radford: Yeah. It’s close to 4K. 4K is like 3800 something.
Leo: That’s really nice. Yeah.
Radford: So, I mean…
Leo: Very high res and yet no trouble pushing those pixels!
Leo: It must have a dedicated graphics adapter. .
Radford: Yes, it is. And the graphics adapter is a G force. It’s a 750…
Leo: N video 750 is very good.
Radford: 750s UT, so it’s pretty ridiculous. I’m just going to snap some of this stuff together here, but it’s really, really fast.
Leo: Yeah, I’m thinking this is kind of the crab de la crab. Spend $300 more and get this one, Shannon! Don’t buy that big heavy old one.
Shannon: I think I would.
Shannon: I’m kind of liking the display on there.
Leo: Love the display, love the touch. How about battery life? We were only getting 5 hours with the Toshiba.
Radford: This one is pushing 7 hours. Right now, if I’m just looking at the desktop…
Leo: Even with that big screen.
Radford: Even with this huge screen. I’m just pointing at it right now.
Leo: You know, Dell has always had the reputation of being, kind of, tanks, the boring tanks. The kind of gray boxes. This is pretty nice! This is pretty sexy. Do you think this is reestablishing Dell as a designer?
Radford: Yeah, they’re pushing themselves in this line. So the XPS line has always been something that’s very high end, and you know, pushing more pixels and pushing more specs out the door. Trying to get things thinner.
Leo: I loved my XPS13, but it looked a lot more like the Toshiba laptop. It was a big old honking brute. This one is sexy. Its good looking.
Shannon: The new 13 is beautiful. The one I reviewed last week, I think I loved it!
Leo: So this is comparable to the 13, it’s just the 15 inch version of it.
Shannon: But the 13 doesn’t have the same resolution either. It’s a little bit lower key than this one.
Leo: Well this is 2,300 bucks. Now you can get a lower resolution screen, a smaller processer and that kind of thing for lower money. This sounds like we got the top of the line for the XPS15.
Radford: Oh yeah, this is the top of the line. Actually you’ll expect this kind of resolution even at the mid-range.
Radford: Yeah, so that’s saying a lot. All things considered, this is a 4K video. And since we’ve been talking about NWC, this is a Barcelona demo, and it’s running at… this is 4K per say, but obviously we’re running at 3200 by 1500.
Leo: No frames dropped. Beautiful fluid motion.
Radford: No frames dropped. I mean, kind of looking at this….
Leo: It just blows me away how they can do that.
Radford: It just destroys anything I’ve seen before. So looking at how the texture is… this is a YouTube video of all things, you don’t even see the artifacts. So it’s really sharp, and ridiculous. I mean, obviously people who are seeing this from the audience won’t see this.
Leo: You’re seeing it in a lower quality but…
Radford: Absolutely. But you’re able to see things like, you’re inside the train station and seeing all the different detail.
Shannon: Oh that’s so pretty!
Leo: Oh nice!
Radford: It’s just off the wall! Here are some things that I wanted to show off.
Leo: It does feel very fluid too.
Radford: Oh it’s very fluid.
Leo: Well you have to have a lot of horse power to push all those pixels.
Radford: Right. And as I was showing that to you, these are actually games that are running in the back ground.
Radford: And that one just stopped at that moment. Because I just had it running for so long.
Leo: It finally gave up on you.
Radford: Yeah, it finally gave up on me.
Leo: 16 gigs of RAM doesn’t hurt at all.
Radford: Let me see if Despicable Me still works. Oh, that stopped too.
Leo: Oh you killed it with a 4K video.
Radford: I killed it.
Leo: You’re not going to play Halo.
Radford: No, but at least we can see, just even the fact that we’re running at this resolution, a lot of the games are supporting it.
Leo: Yeah, this is a pretty good gamer laptop then, you think?
Radford: Oh it’s great. If Bryan pulls up some of the specs on there. Here it is. These are actual fun games running at 1366.
Radford: But this is actually very respectable frame rates that we’re seeing now.
Leo: But that’s a very low resolution.
Radford: It is a low resolution but, I mean, a lot of the gamers are playing at either low or somewhat medium high.
Leo: Because they want the high frame rates.
Radford: They want the high frame rates. Here are some of the comparisons with other laptops. And in terms of just 8.1 performance, running 8.1 on Windows, it’s close to beating the higher end laptops, but those laptops by itself are higher priced than this one. So you’re getting very good value for your dollar.
Leo: Right. So let’s get the pros and cons Radford.
Radford: So the pros are, it actually looks good too. That’s one thing I didn’t get a chance to talk about.
Leo: It’s gorgeous! It looks like a…. Well it’s an Ultra Book, I shouldn’t say it’s gorgeous.
Radford: Right, right.
Leo: So is it metal, plastic?
Radford: So this is weird, it has a little split personality. This is a brushed aluminum on the front, and on the back it is carbon fiber.
Leo: That’s nice!
Radford: Yeah, it’s really, really clean. It’s sort of like a look that you get used to. But this is one thing I really like, it’s a matte surface so it’s very resistant to fingerprints.
Leo: Love that!
Radford: And of course it’s using the convex type keyboard, so your fingers fit right well.
Leo: How much does that weigh?
Radford: This is 3.6 pounds.
Leo: Half as much as Shannon’s!
Radford: Half as much as yours. If you were going to start your workouts, use this laptop first.
Leo: I’m glad we started with Shannon’s and ended up with yours.
Radford: Right, so if you want to do less sets, you use that one, right? So if you want to do higher reps use this one.
Leo: So Shannon is strength training, you’re for more endurance, right?
Radford: Exactly! You want to do endurance stuff, you work with this laptop. You know, if you want an open book, put them in your backpack.
Leo: So this sounds good, I mean, great battery life, beautiful display, nice fit and finish.
Radford: Oh yeah.
Leo: So those are the pros. What are the cons?
Radford: The cons, just an ugly adapter. (Laughs) And that it is…
Shannon: You’re like looking for cons at that point.
Radford: Yeah, I was looking for cons at that point, but I really don’t see that many cons.
Leo: This is a nice choice.
Leo: You’ve looked at other 15 inch machines with Windows 8. Would this be your choice among all of them?
Radford: Yes, so with all of choices, I mean, I’m giving this a recommendation. So it’s a buy.
Leo: It’s a buy! $2299 as equipped, but it starts at $1500. It’s the Dell XPS15. I like it! This is the new Dell. You know, they went private. Michael Dell and some investors bought the shares back. And I think this is maybe Dell saying, “See we’re not just gray boxes, we do other stuff too.”
Radford: Oh no, they’re not just messing now.
Leo: Very nice. Thank you, Radford Castro, our director of engineering. Before You Buy continues now. We’re going to take a look at something called the Ultimate Laptop Peripheral. This is a weird beast but that’s why we gave it to Father Robert Ballecer. He’s going to review the Velocity Micro Vmultra Drive External Peripheral thingy.
Fr. Robert Ballecer: I’m Father Robert Ballecer, the digital Jesuit, and if you’ve got one of these, maybe you need one of these. The VMultra Drive by Velocity Micro is an external all in one device that combines an optical drive, a USB hub, a hard drive caddy, and a media card reader in a single USB 3.0 enclosure. Measuring 6X5X1.4 inches high, and weighing one pound, the VMultra drive is designed as a companion for ultra-books, a toolbox for techies, and a desktop base accessory. The VMultra drive can be customized with either a DVD RW or Blu-ray DVRW optical drive. And your choice of 2.5 inch storage device. No matter the configuration, Velocity micro packs the drives, cables, and power adapters to make the device work in all situations. In addition to the optical drive, the VMultra drive is a USB hub with 2 USB 3.0, and a single USB 2.0 port. Next to the USB ports, is a media reader that will accept SD, SDHC, and MMC memory cards. On the bottom side of the unit is a removable cover for a bay that will accept 2.5 inch Seta drives. Using the VMultra drive is trivial. Connect the power, hook up the USB 3.0 cable, then plug that cable into your USB 2.0, or 3.0 compatible port. USB 3.0 supports 5 gigabits per second. Which means that it should be plenty fast enough for the optical drive and the hard drive, stressed only by the fastest of SSDs. Needless to say, since USB 2.0 supports a max transfer rate of 480 megabits per second, the VMultra drive will work on slower busses, but it’s not ideal. In use, the VMultra was fantastically fast and flexible. Not only did I use it as an optical storage companion for my Acer S7 ultra book, but with the drive loaded up with a few of my favorite installs and tools, the VMultra became a natural companion for my builds and troubleshooting. The VMultra drive is available now with a one year standard warranty. You can find it online, starting at $99. On the pro side, they definitely got a lot of things right with this drive. Everything from the size and the format to the weight, to the fact that they’ve really packed in a lot of features. Everything from the optical drive, to the USB hub, to the media card reader, to the USB hard drive caddy down below. This is one of those rare products that delivers exactly what it promises. And that is an external USB all in one. On the con side, I’d have to say the only thing really is the size of the power adapter. This kind of keeps it from going portable all the time. However there is a trick, you see the only reason it needs the external power adapter, which can provide 40 watts of power, is because the typical USB high power port can only give out 20 watts of power. If you try to plug this into your computer with a rotating drive, it just won’t power up, there’s not enough power. However, the trick is to us an SSD like this Samsung, or this Kingston. You see, SSDs use a lot less power, and if you put one of those into the VMUltra drive it powers up just fine. And you can save the power adapter for when you get home and you need that full powered USB hub. In all, I’d say that the Velocity Micro VMultra drive is a great companion for anyone with an Ultra book, or any notebook without an optical drive for that matter. Not just that though, I think it could be useful for any geek who wants a single unit that can provide all his tools. Give him the optical drive, the hard drive with all his software, for all his utilities, all his diagnostics, all of his ports so that he could plug in the various bits and bytes that he needs to get things up and running. And maybe he wants it all in one place. For me, I’d have to say that the Velocity Micro Vmultra Drive, is a definite buy. I’m Father Robert Ballecer for Before You Buy.
Leo: Hey you know what? Its 150 bucks, that’s a lot for 150 bucks. It’s just a little more than you’d pay for a DVD player alone. I think that’s pretty cool. Thank you Robert Ballecer. Father Robert does This Week in Enterprise Tech, Coding 101 with Shannon Morse, what else does he do? He does that thing where he gets together on Friday and talks.
Shannon: Oh yeah! Late night with Padre.
Leo: Padres Corner.
Shannon: Padres Corner.
Leo: Yeah. (laughs) Thank you Robert. We love having him around. We’re going to wrap things up with a look at a Sony Xperia. You know, I’ve been really interested in using these Xperias because people who love Sony… They’ve got the Xperia fan club going here. This is a new one that is T-Mobile only in the United States. That means you’re going to take advantage of T-Mobile’s un-carrier pricing. About $600, I think. $588. You can get it for $22 a month, if you do that monthly thing. And of course, T-Mobile doesn’t lock you in, so that’s a good deal. But let’s take a look at it in terms of an Android phone. A couple of disadvantages. It’s not running KitKat, it’s still running Jelly bean. And I think that knowing Sony, there may not be an upgrade path. This particularly, we should mention, this is the Z1S, the Z2 has been announced at mobile world conference, and will be out in just a few months. Why would you be interest in this? Well the chief points are, 1. It’s waterproof. It’s adheres to the IPX5 and 8 standards. That means you can continuously submerse it, in theory. And, I didn’t try this because I have very bad luck with water and cameras, you can actually shoot video and pictures underwater with it. So they’re selling it as that. Dustproof as well. So I’m always nervous about this, but I’m going to take Sony’s word for it…
Shannon: I did it.
Leo: Did you? Shoot underwater… And it has a 20 megapixel camera, that’s the other selling points on this. 20 megapixels a lot for a camera. And Sony has their own censoring technology. I found that the images were not particularly good. Here we are in a lit studio and I had a chance to, you were not moving, I told you to sit still, and it’s an okay picture but…
Radford: I didn’t know you were taking a shot there!
Leo: You didn’t know I was doing that did you?
Radford: I did not!
Leo: It doesn’t blow me away. I mean 20 megapixels, I don’t know. Yeah, I guess so. I’ll zoom in on Radford’s necktie and there is detail in there, but it is a Jpeg and so some softening as well. I think if you want a great camera you’re probably better off looking at a Lumia 1520 or a Lumia 1020. On the other hand those are Windows phones, and this is Android phone. I don’t know if it’s the best Android camera, it seems competitive with the Galaxy S4 13 megapixel camera. This is a 13 megapixel camera.
Radford: That still doesn’t have a shutter on it either, right?
Leo: Yeah, no shutter. The other thing I don’t like about this is, now they’re claiming this kind of fancy screen, Sony calls it a full HD try luminous display with X reality motion picture engine. To me, it just looks a little washed out, I’m not crazy about it. I’m a little bit jaded because of the Alumna displays I’m use, to but I don’t see anything really special about this screen. It’s a 5 inch 1080P display. It is pretty fast 2.2 gigahertz. Quad core quall com chip set. Dust resistant, water resistant, good battery life, got through the entire day with me. They claim 15 hours of talk time. That’s pretty darn good. So if you’re looking for a water proof camera… water proof phone I should say, with a very good camera, one of the best. A nice form factor, it’s pretty. This might be a good choice for you. I don’t usually get water proof cameras because I get bugged by these covers. But you know, all the new phones… I should say, all the new phones have these, including the S5 and it just drives me crazy, you have to pry that open.
Radford: Is there a cover for the charger too? For the charger port?
Leo: Yeah, It’s all covered up. There are no openings on this thing. So, you know, it’s nice. It’s not something I would go write to mother about. They’re pretty good about the croft. I’m a big Google phone experience, I prefer kind of the plain Jane Google. I resisted putting my own launcher on here just so I could play with the Sony launcher for a while. It’s not too bad, it doesn’t get too much in the way. That’s not really singing its praises, but at least it’s okay. Sony also has a number of its special applications on here, and Sony store. They have a Sony magazine, everybody is doing that now. It has a Walkman app on it. $10 a month you can have Sony music on here. Again, none of this to me is particularly distinguishing from other stuff that’s out there. I’m going to say pros, descent industrial design. Good screen, 5 inches. I’ve always liked the bigger screens. Its waterproof and dustproof. Decent, pretty good camera. 20 Megapixel camera. Cons, its Jelly Bean, not KitKat. And I don’t like the ports for water proof, so I can’t make that a pro and a con. Its pro is, it’s waterproof. Its con is its got ports… all waterproof cameras do. I’m going to have to give this a try. If you’re on T-Mobile, T-Mobile has a lot of the best phones out there now. It’s good, you have a lot of good choices on the un-carrier. I think this is a nice phone. It’s one of those things… Sony like I said, has its fans, and if you’re a Sony fan, you’ll certainly like this phone. I think I’m not a Sony fan, so it’s not for me, but it might be for you. I’m going to give it a try. Not a don’t buy, but a try. Go to your T-Mobile store and play with it, take a look at the camera, see how you feel about the screen. This is a problem because it’s such a crowded category now, it’s hard for a phone to stand out.
Leo: The next generation which comes out in May will have 4K video. Sony was all excited about that. Who shoots 4K video on your phone? I don’t understand that.
Shannon: Soon, everybody!
Leo: Everybody! Galaxy S5 does it, everybody does it. So a try on the Xperia Z1S, the waterproof version of the Xperia. By the way, the Z2 is waterproof as well, similar design. Well that wraps it up. Boy did we have a lot of stuff! A couple of laptops, a bunch of speakers, that weird thing, doohickey for your laptop. I want to thank Father Robert Ballecer. I want to thank you Shannon, and Radford, and of course, Bryan Burnett as well. And Victor for their reviews. Thank you for watching. We make all our reviews available in a couple of different ways. You can get individual reviews on our YouTube channel, youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. You can get the whole show there, but you can also get it at our website tiwt.tv/byb. If you’ve got a request, something you’d like to see, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll do our darndest to get it in here and get a review on the air for you. We do this show, and it’s kind of a different version of this show, we do it in a truncated fashion because we don’t have a whole lot of time, so you’ll just see a little bit of the reviews, but if you want to watch, we love it. It’s right after Security now, about 3:30 PM Pacific, and 6:30 PM Eastern time. 23 plus 12 is 1530 plus 8, 2330 UTC. I have to do that math every single time, on Tuesday afternoons. Whew! We’ll see you back here next week, okay? Thanks for watching! Remember you’ve got to watch Before You Buy. We’ll see you next time folks!